Through the dim lights, a large cylindrical flame rose, ensconced in a lavish circular bar so that it resembled an oversized Olympic flame. The walls, adorned with real Argentine cow-hides and chandeliers made of bullhorns completed the feast for the eyes. I was at Asado, a South American Steak Restaurant, tucked away off the far corner of the opulent lobby at the Sheraton Hotel in Ruwi.
Surprised? So were we. As we walked into the lobby of the newly opened hotel, we were stunned by the transformation. Sheraton Hotel, the tallest 5-star hotel in Oman at 14 storeys, was closed for what was meant to be a month of renovation almost ten years ago. It’s been a long time coming, but what a facelift — the magnificent hotel lobby now features the grandeur of a palace. And their new signature steakhouse? Well, that remained to be seen.
We were escorted by extremely pleasant and polite Sheraton staff member to the restaurant where we were seated indoors, next to the beautifully lit swimming pool, offering us a fantastic view of the outdoors. The crisp winter weather makes sitting outside a rather appealing option now, too.
As we feasted our eyes on the uniquely South American decor, we were approached by the very elegant manager of Asado, Carolina, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who was as fresh and refreshing as the contemporary space itself. She made us feel right at home with her very friendly and comfortable demeanour.
We were served sparkling water with fresh lemon slices before being presented with our expertly crafted drinks. The menu has a wide choice of beverages, my mocktail featured a sweet and deliciously tangy passion fruit juice mixed with strawberry. Not far behind was our amuse bouche, a small nibble of smoked salmon with goat cheese, compliments of the chef, and a fabulous bread basket, overflowing with various buns stuffed with olives or dried tomatoes, served with a choice of French butter or beetroot and olives tapenade.
Our first course began with a platter of fried crispy calamari rings and lemon-aioli dressing, which were very tasty and crunchy while fresh, but you must finish it fast as squid tends to get rubbery as it cools down. A barbecued octopus with grilled potatoes and smoked paprikas was tender and delicious and the presentation was simply awesome, a true visual delight. But the most wonderful dish was yet to come. The Beef Cecina de Leon, a platter of dry aged, Spanish cured Iberico beef was very thinly sliced and folded in the shape of a triangular leaf and platted with artichoke hearts, Manchego cheese, and a slice of thick country bread. The salty, tangy, rich flavours were complex and absolutely mouthwatering.
After such a stellar line-up of starters, the main courses had a hard act to follow, but follow they did. The restaurant’s signature dish is the Glacier 51 tooth fish, prepared using an Australian fish that is flash frozen upon being caught and flown directly to Muscat, where it is only available at Asado. The snow-white flesh is meltingly tender while the pan-fried, crunchy skin provides the perfect amount of crispness. It was absolutely cooked to perfection, which allowed the elegant balance of flavour and texture to shine. Served with a sauté of white beans in a tomato-almond-caper salsa with grilled red peppers, chorizo, and feta cheese it is a show-stopper of a dish.
As for the beef, a huge platter of John Stone 21-days aged grass fed beef steak, Bife ancho was cooked medium rare and served in the shape of a palm tree for a playful twist on a seriously excellent cut of meat. On its heels was the Lomo—a dry aged, grass fed Irish tenderloin medallion that was succulent, juicy, and moist. The rich piece of meat is served with grilled and stuffed portobello mushroom, which was almost as good as the perfectly cooked steak.
To finish a feast as fine as this one, there had to be dessert. It took a bit of time for our sweet dishes to arrive, so in the meantime we were served strawberry sorbet in tequila shot glasses while we waited.
A dollop of dark chocolate ice cream with chocolate sticks and a delicate vanilla panna cotta with poached kumquats, passion fruit, and strawberries arrived, and we began to nibble, but were stopped short by the presentation of the grandest of finales: A piping hot chocolate soufflé, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and positively oozing with hot chocolate sauce.
We left Asado having enjoyed a meal and experience that far exceeded our expectations. This is a very fine restaurant and a very welcome surprise, truly a cut above.
Asado South American Steakhouse
Sheraton Hotel, Ruwi
+968 2237 7777
Beef Cecina de Leon, OMR9
Glacier 51 Tooth fish, OMR29
Bife Ancho Aged Irish Rib eye Steak, OMR27
Chocolate Soufflé, OMR4